Fallout 3 dazzles gamers with huge world

connor gerdes

Set in post-nuclear apocalypse D.C., Fallout 3 is an action/first person shooter/role playing game akin to the Elder Scrolls series. The player begins in Vault 101, living with his widowed father in a fallout shelter locked in from the tattered world. One day, when his father escapes, the Overseer of the vault believes the player aided his escape, and from this point on the world is open. There’s no path to follow; the player can either follow the main story or just explore the world.

Bethesda Studios, creators of Fallout 3 as well as the Elder Scrolls series, have consistently set and raised the bar with each release with the sheer scope of the world. With roughly 10 square miles of content to discover, there’s never a lack of something to do for explorers. Unfortunately, for those less inclined to wander around a wasteland, the main story can be completed in under 20 hours, and the bulk of that time is spent traveling. The amount of impact the player has on the world is pretty incredible though, one of the first cities encountered is Megaton. A city built of scrap metal placed conveniently on top of an atomic bomb. With a little tweaking, the player can activate the bomb and effectively wipe the city off the map, causing all of its inhabitants to die or become ghouls–irradiated humans who look like zombies. It’s quite an impressive sequence, and an example of one of the game’s greatest strengths: choice.

Fallout 3 boasts one of the best RPG/FPS fusion systems around: VATS (Vault Assisted Targeting System). When activated, VATS stops time and allows the player to choose targets and their specific body parts. It then goes into an exaggerated but very well done cinematic scene, where the player’s actions are carried out. Some scenes get quite gruesome, with heads flying after taking a few shots to the dome. The system is very successful, but it makes the first person aspect look weak in comparison––in other words, it’s too good, and not always available.

The character creation system returns from previous Fallout installments. It breaks down into three categories: typical RPG stats, perks (special abilities), and skills (lockpicking, hacking, weapon proficiency, etc). There’s absolutely nothing new here, which works for and against its favor. The skills are more obnoxious than anything, with most just serving as a number checkpoint (i.e a lockpicking skill of 50 is required to open a door). There are a few utterly useless options in the creation system, and no matter how you create your character,the gameplay really doesn’t change much––you’re either shooting from afar or you’re in close. It’s worth noting that an unarmed character is one of the best options, a trend that is becoming all too common in gaming. It’s absurd, and it detracts from the serious tone of the world surrounding it.

While the main story is quite engaging at first, it loses its appeal around the halfway point, when you realize you’ve spent six hours of “We’re sorry, but your father is in another castle!” It then rushes awkwardly into its conclusion before the threat is even realized. Overall, Fallout 3 is a very solid game for those inclined to make the most of out it. With no multiplayer options and a rather short story, those with short attention spans will want to avoid it.